Nick Torraca is an up and coming rider for the Elevate Elite Cycling team. He is a 20 year old who currently lives in Austin, TX while attending college at the University of Texas. Nick captured the Texas State Criterium Championship earlier this season. The Hotter n' Hell race (HHH) takes place during the brutally hot month of August in Texas. Although this makes for much less than ideal racing conditions, the race is highly attended by most of the states top racers. Many of those racers bring their full teams to help them achieve their goals. When the dust settled in this years edition of HHH, it was Nick that stood atop the podium as the victor in the omnium competition. I asked Nick a couple of questions regarding the race.
How many times have you raced the HHH?
Nick: 4 times
What was your previous best result at the HHH? Note: The HHH is divided up into 3 separate races; a criterium on Friday night, a Road Race on Saturday morning and a criterium on Sunday afternoon.
Nick: I placed 8th in the Road race in 2013.
What were your goals coming into the HHH this year?
Nick: The goal for me was the get the team into position to win the road race. I found myself in that very role but came up a tad short in the end. The overall omnium wasn't really a priority of mine going into the weekend but after not winning the road race I was happy to win it for my team after there performance.
*the omnium competition is based on the rider that has the most points based on their finishes in the 3 events that make up the race weekend.
What kind of race were you expecting this year?
Nick: We knew who was going good and what the courses were like from the past. Having done these races for the past 4 years really did help with knowing where and when to be. The race is pretty similar every year which makes it more predictable what was going to happen.
Can you briefly describe Friday night's crit?
Nick: Friday night wasn't as important to us as the road race but we still made the race hard and were represented well in the breaks and the final laps. The large crowd at the race is really cool to see and being able to get Zack on the podium was a big deal.
Can you briefly describe Saturday's road race?
Nick: Saturday's road race was fun. The break rolled early about 25 miles in and my team but faith in Colton and I to be in it. Going into the last 10 miles I attacked and got up the road with Colin Strickland (Elbowz Racing). We worked together well and built a substantial lead but I wasn't able to get him in the sprint. He's a deserving winner on great form and he's definitely a good guy to lose to.
Can you briefly describe Sunday's crit?
Nick: Sunday's crit was a team effort. While we didn't have anyone in the break we still had to defend the overall and my team made sure I was up front and out of the mayhem to be able to achieve that. Going into the final lap I was right where I needed to be and was able to back up their effort with a decent sprint to keep my lead.
At what point do you feel that you were capable of winning the omnium?
Nick: After the road race I had a fairly comfortable lead in the omnium which made me ride more defensive on the last stage. I knew it was possible to win but also knew I had to ride well to be able to keep it. Not being a sprinter made me have to ride smart and conserve my lead as much as possible.
Did you have to deal with any adversity during the race weekend? If so, how did you deal with it?
Nick I felt pretty confident going into the weekend but without Heath Blackgrove racing with us I definitely felt like I had a lot more pressure on my shoulders. I rode smarter and more conservative than usual and it played well for me for the weekend as a whole despite the pressure.
How do you feel that you were able to stay consistent and pick up points in every stage to win the omnium competition?
Nick: The overall wasn't really my intention for the weekend. After the first two races everyone kind of knows who is close to them in the classification. Since I was wearing it into the last day, that's when it came to my attention I could win it and put more of the focus on doing so. The first two days results came from trying to win the race, not from trying to gain points for the omnium.